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Raised CA125

Posted by


I am sorry for posting especially when I have read what you are all going through. I am just really worried and hoping for some advice or positive experiences.

I am 42 years old and haven't been feeling great for a few months now. Lower abdominal cramps, lower back pain always really tired, nausea and bloating. I went to the doctor early September and she ran some blood tests. They all came back normal except for CA125 which was 79.

I was referred to gynaecology who examined me and said there was nothing obvious. I also got an pelvic ultrasound which thankfully was clear.

Gynaecology have said they want my doctor to repeat the CA125 blood test and investigate my bowel.

I am so relieved that it obviously isn't ovarian cancer but now I am worried about bowel problems. Is an increased CA125 related to bowel problems?

Thank you for any advice :-)

Posted by


I am sorry you have all this worry but well done for going to the doctor. 

I’m not a health professional but here is my understanding. CA125 is a protein that we all produce. It’s an inflammatory marker - it goes up when there is inflammation in your body. That could be an infection or inflammation due to your period, for example. Women with endometriosis often have raised CA126. Our levels usually fluctuate over the course of a month. The normal level is below 35.

It does have significance in some cancers. As you already know, raised CA125 can be an indicator of ovarian cancer. But it is not diagnostic. Doctors would usually put together a picture from symptoms such as bloating and/or unusual menstrual bleeding plus ultrasound results plus the CA125 as a starting point for investigation to find out what’s going on. 

It is also important in monitoring cancer. I’m living with high grade womb cancer and my docs track my CA125 as a proxy measure of what the cancer is doing. It tends to go down if treatment is working and the cancer is shrinking and up as it stops working and the cancer grows. If it goes up over a period of weeks or a couple of months, they do a ct scan. Typically they see growth in the cancer about three months after the CA125 starts to rise. That’s my pattern - it’s not the same for everyone. I’m about to start more treatment right now and my CA125 is currently 2,600! 

So your raised CA125 could be due to a number of things. It is a red flag - particularly if the level goes up over several months - but it’s not always clear what it’s flagging. I think it might help to focus on the fact that your doctors have picked up your raised CA125 and are investigating thoroughly rather than wondering about the “what if”. I know that’s not easy though. 

I hope this helps. If you want to check this out with a health professional then please do post your question in our ask a nurse section. https://community.macmillan.org.uk/cancer_experiences/ask_the_expert/

Good luck! 

Posted by

Hi Daloni

Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate it.

I wish you all the best with your treatment and I hope you are keeping well.

Best wishes